It’s not a French curse word, don’t worry. Soldes simply means sales. According to French law, sales happen twice a year:
Winter: January 11 to February 21.
Summer: June 28 to August 8.
Stores can apply discounts however they wish and it’s not hard to happen upon designer clothing marked down 80%. Go get that jacket you saw two months ago that you didn’t buy because it cost an arm and a leg (and then you would have an extra sleeve and no arm to put in it…You can get it now.)
Paris-Pas-Cher Pro tip: Most stores apply additional discounts after one or two weeks, it’s called “seconde démarque”. As the end of sales season approaches, stores start to panic and even apply a third or fourth discounts on their wares. Ideal if you feel like everything is still to expensive at the beginning of soldes!
Alternatively, if “winter is coming” (too quickly), check out any of the second hand stores called GUERISSOL – you can google the nearest one to you!